Developing STEM toolkits for young children to improve spatial skills

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This study aimed to develop STEM toolkits to improve spatial learning in the early years. The Pedagogical Play-framework was adopted as a conceptual framework to guide teachers in designing STEM toolkits to support children's spatial skills. Design-based research was applied to investigate in-service teachers‟ pedagogical practice. The results of the first stage showed that teachers‟ lack of confidence and pedagogical approaches to spatial learning were barriers to design effective toolkits. In the second stage, a professional development programme guided teachers to design STEM toolkits for young children's learning based on the teachers‟ pedagogical needs and children's learning interests. Navigation, map reading and map creation were the three types of spatial learning activities to improve children's spatial skills. Three pedagogical play types were adopted as pedagogical toolkits by the in-service teachers in designing spatial learning: 1) purposefully-framed play, 2) modelled play and 3) openended play. This study also investigated how to integrate digital technologies in STEM activities, including using digital maps, digital cameras, tablets and apps. Copyright © The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-34
JournalJournal of Education and Human Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


Hu, X. (2021). Developing STEM toolkits for young children to improve spatial skills. Journal of Education and Human Development, 10(1), 24-34. doi: 10.15640/jehd.v10n1a3


  • STEM education
  • Spatial skills
  • Early childhood education
  • Pedagogical-play types
  • Digital technologies


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